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U.S. Government steps up its efforts to track down journalist sources.

A former government official was recently presented with presented with extensive phone records of his interactions with James Risen, a reporter for the New York Times and author of the book, “State of War.”

The investigation concerns a series of leaks, reported by Risen in State of War and with associate Eric Lichtblau in the Times, which lead to the discovery of an “extensive, off-the-books domestic spying program” later confirmed by the Bush Administration. Justice Department officials confirmed that prosecutors subpoenaed Risen’s phone records in an effort to ferret out his sources, and sources close to the investigation indicated that at least one former government official has already been questioned.

The Times’ source, a grand jury witness speaking on anonymity, said he was not clear whose records the DoJ is accessing, noting that it’s possible that investigators could target Risen’s phone records, or the records of the officials he may have spoken with. The Times also reports that it has, thus far, not received any subpoenas, though it notes that it’s possible the government could subpoena its phone company without the giving the Times anynotice.

Justice Department officials served Risen a subpoena earlier this year January, demanding the sources for a specific chapter in State of War that details a CIA plan to infiltrate Iran’s nuclear program.

Joel Kurtzberg, the New York attorney representing Risen on behalf of his employer and publisher, declined to comment.

Risen’s reporting set a climate that helped propel evidence of an AT&T/NSA wiretapping alliance into the limelight, galvanizing the civil rights groups to action and setting telcos and the Bush Administration aflame. The government is currently moving to crush the resulting lawsuits by invoking the State Secrets privilege, which have the potential of quickly ending the battle.

His articles – which won him a shared Pulitzer Prize in 2006 – are just the latest target of a government seemingly intent on punishing reporters that fail to cooperate. Times reporter Judith Miller spent nearly three months in jail after refusing to divulge her sources in a leak that identified a C.I.A. operative, and California freelance reporter Josh Wolf spent over half a year in jail after he refused to testify before a grand jury and hand over videotapes of an anarchist rally in San Francisco that turned violent. In Wolf’s case, a three-judge panel in the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that his behavior was in defiance of the “long-established obligation of a reporter to comply with grand jury subpoenas.”

Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press executive director Lucy A. Daiglish warned reporters of the Bush Administration’s “really egregious” efforts at intimidation, telling press members to spur technology and “do your reporting the old fashioned way – meet your sources on a park bench.”

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RE: Wait a minute...
By Darnell021 on 4/16/2008 12:27:31 PM , Rating: 3
I suppose you could make that conclusion, but perhaps these inside sources decided the spying programs were morally wrong and the most effective way to get that out to the public would be to talk to a reporter..

RE: Wait a minute...
By FITCamaro on 4/16/2008 2:19:30 PM , Rating: 1
So they also decided that it was in the public's best interest to tell a journalist about secret plans to infiltrate Iran's nuclear program so we know if they're developing nuclear weapons and/or selling them to terrorists? Yes that sounds like it would be horrible for the American people. Yes I can understand someone whistleblowing on a program that actually potentially affects American's, but not on program's that do not and only serve to keep America, and the rest of the world, safe.

Sorry but he's right. The government needs to know who is releasing secrets. Especially when they compromise national security and could cost lives(those of CIA operatives). If these people are willing to sell journalists secrets, they'll also sell the Chinese, Iran, or others secrets.

RE: Wait a minute...
By FITCamaro on 4/16/2008 2:25:42 PM , Rating: 2
Actually I should say I don't understand whistleblowing on said program. But I can understand the desire to. If you don't agree with something, you might be compelled to bring it to others attention. But that still doesn't give you the right to break the law.

RE: Wait a minute...
By Darkskypoet on 4/16/08, Rating: -1
RE: Wait a minute...
By FITCamaro on 4/16/2008 8:04:36 PM , Rating: 3
They don't even have to sell them. All that has to happen is a rogue employee has to sneak some nuclear material out and give it to a terrorist organization. It's already been shown that groups like Hamas are receiving funding from Iran. Is it inconceivable to think that they might be able to get their hands on nuclear material from Iran? I think not.

Nukes are only a deterrent when neither side actually wants to fight and die. And I think terrorist groups have clearly shown they don't care about killing innocents or themselves.

RE: Wait a minute...
By hcahwk19 on 4/16/2008 10:08:49 PM , Rating: 2
They don't have to sell them to terrorists because Iran is a terrorist nation that harbors, trains and funds various Islamofascist terrorist groups. The Iranian government gives millions in money and weapons to Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Qaida, you name it. No selling required; just giving.

RE: Wait a minute...
By croc on 4/17/2008 12:08:30 AM , Rating: 2
"And in other news today, President Bush has proscribed the Democratic party to terrorist status by a presidential finding. All congressional records with any Democratic comments shall be declared classified documents, and the Democratic Terrorist Party's fundraising efforts will be tracked down and confiscated"

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